As a travel photographer, lightweight gear is a top priority. But the word tripod usually conjures up an image of a large, metallic stand that can barely fit in your backpack. That is where backpacking tripods come in.
Built to be sturdy and lightweight, travel tripods help you capture professionally stunning sunsets and flowing waterfalls. You will also find a tripod super helpful if you vlog during your travels. Because, well, not many people are available to hold the camera for you.
That’s why a travel tripod is an essential item for a backpacking photographer. However, hundreds of tripods fit the portable category. But which one fits your needs?
We’ve put together three tripods that are lightweight, affordable, and well-built.
Compare the Features
1. Pedco UltraPod II – Best Mini Backpacking Tripod (Editor’s Choice)
The Pedco UltraPod II is a tabletop-style tripod. It is strong, capable, and works with everything from small DSLRs to Go Pros.
Design and Build Quality
This tripod weighs only 4.2 ounces. But it can support a max load of 6 pounds. The tripod folds to a compact size of 7 inches. You can easily fit it in the water bottle compartment of your backpack.
Pedco UltraPod II features a ¼-inch screw which is standard. It not only fits well with cameras, but also works with speedlights and video lights. It can pan over 360 degrees and allows +/-90 degrees tilt and +/- 20 degrees angular adjustments.
Pedco UltraPod II boasts construction from a nylon resin frame. It uses threaded aluminum components that are equally long-lasting. For the feet, they are made of vinyl. Pedco UltraPod II uses L-shaped legs. They are surprisingly stable. It is unlike some brands that are difficult to work with on a variety of surfaces.
It even has rubber tips to stabilize if further.
Being a mini-tripod, it is easy to dismiss its versatility. But you will be surprised by the sheer number of uses it can come in handy. One, it can be secured to a tree limb, post, or any object using the removable D-ring Velcro band.
You get a remote trigger that allows you to take long-exposure shots as well as excellent macros. You can use your hand as the stabilizer with this tripod. It is especially handy when you want to take photos in low light situations.
· Fits all cameras with a tripod socket
· Can be fixed to irregular surfaces
· Non-slip vinyl feet
· Comes with a remote trigger
· Does not work well with heavier lenses
2. TYCKA Rangers 56-Inch Backpacking Tripod- Best Travel Tripod for Macro Photography
TYCKA Rangers presents a professional-grade tripod. It is lightweight as expected and made of high-quality materials. The tripod can convert into a monopod. This feature adds to its versatility during travel.
Design and Build Quality
TYCKA Rangers is made for DSLR cameras. It works with most brands from Nikon to Sony, Canon, and many others. Built of aluminum alloy, this tripod weighs 2.9 pounds. But it can support a max load of 26.5 pounds. It can work with some of the heaviest lenses.
The Rangers has three legs that are height adjustable. You can go from 14 inches to 56 inches in seconds using a ball head adapter. The ball head also allows the tripod to pan over 360 degrees.
At only 12 inches when folded, you don’t need a heavy carry-on to transport it. That’s why it’s a great travel companion. We like the overall quality of this model. The legs are stable and stiff. They work well on most surfaces.
You can even add more weight to the center column when you need extra stability.
We’ve touched a little on what TYCKA Rangers can do. The rotating ball head is the takeaway feature. You can depend on this tripod to shoot excellent video shots and sharp landscapes. And everything there is to still photography.
Another nice feature is that you can detach one leg to use it as a monopod. Not to mention the center leg can invert to use it for macro photography. You are about to get lots of functionality without spending an arm and a leg.
· Comes with an extra short tube
· Quick-release flip-lock
· Precision CNC machine construction
· Converts into monopod
Needs anchor support for slippery surfaces
3. ZOMEI 58-Inch Backpacking Tripod – Best Budget Backpacking Tripod
If you want to keep the weight as light as possible, ZOMEI is just the way to go. This tripod boasts a 2-in-1 design. You can use it as a regular tripod or convert it into a monopod.
Design and Build Quality
ZOMEI boasts a durable construction from aluminum alloy for the tube and ABS environmental plastic. It weighs 2.5 pounds and can load devices with a max weight of 11 pounds. The legs feature rubber feet and three flip-up locks.
You will not only be able to use it on flat surfaces, but it is also easy to stabilize on uneven grounds. This feature is particularly helpful because you will be in nature where finding a flat surface can be difficult.
Better still, with the help of the pan head, you can get 360-degree panoramas. Not to mention, it can tilt and swivel providing endless ways of adjustments.
The ZOMEI tripod is a 4-section tripod. It allows you to adjust the center column to get a 6-section monopod. As a tripod, you can adjust the height from 17.32 to 55 inches. And as a monopod, the height adjusts from 15 to 51 inches. It is so flexible that you can go from shooting stable shots to videos without compromising on quality.
ZOMEI also comes with a phone holder. It is a nice addition since you can use your phone to shoot without involving someone else. This is for those moments where you need quality videos on your phone. Remember that tripods allow you to stabilize images and get even, consistent sound.
With a phone holder, no more worries about shaky videos
· Removable three-way pan head
· Decent load capacity (11 pounds)
· Comes with a phone holder
· Lever-lock legs for uneven ground
· Difficult to contact manufacturer for warranty
Conclusion: Which Backpacking Tripod is Best?
The best backpacking tripod fits in with your kind of photography. If you are all about random moments in nature, you are good to go with a lightweight model like the Pedco UltraPod II. This mini tripod packs small and fits most people’s budgets.
But if you are a professional photographer, you likely get into long-exposure astrophotography. In this case, you will need something heavier. The TYCKA Rangers fits the bill here. It is heavy and you can add more weight to it if you want to support heavier cameras.